A Very Short Story On Domestic Abuse- A Helping Hand

luigi diamanti,

 

Sakhu sits in a corner of my kitchen, ignoring the cup of tea before her, wiping away her tears. She senses my scrutiny. Gathering her sari around her bruised lip, she is shrinking further into herself, trying to make herself inconspicuous.

Self-blame. Shame. Dejection. Her posture says it all.

Her clothes are crumpled, her hair unkempt; far from her usual neat appearance. I wonder whether she has been wandering outside all night.

I am relieved that she arrived after my husband has left for work. Perhaps she had been lurking outside the gate, waiting for him to leave. Still in my nightgown, I had to hastily duck into the bedroom to pull on my long sleeved wrapper, before I opened the door to let her in.

Sakhu has been my maidservant for the past three months. Diligent, punctual, cheerful, hardworking, a battered wife.

Women in my neighbourhood have tried to dissuade me from employing her. Too many mornings when she does not turn up for work, they say. But I have ignored them.

I tactfully leave her to finish her tea.

The strip of painkillers is on the end table on my side of the bed. She needs one; I have never seen her in so much pain. As I take out one to give her, I notice that I have already run through half. I gaze at it for full minute. I can’t remember when I had bought it. A week ago? A fortnight? I feel a searing pain within me that is not at all physical. Tears trickle down my cheeks.

Silent tears; I am good at crying silently.

I return to the kitchen ten minutes later, make-up hiding the ravages on my face. She has finished the tea. Broom in hand, she has begun to sweep the kitchen. I stop her.

“Take this.” I say, giving her the painkiller.

A questioning look from Sakhu.

“It takes away the pain.” I explain, knowing how untrue this really is. “Go home now. Come when you feel better.”

“Not all my memsahibs are as understanding….Anyway, I don’t want to go home.”Her eyes well up once more.

She makes eye-contact with me for the first time. What I see shakes me up. There is something there that I have not seen before. God knows, I need to help Sakhu.

I admire her. Her courage, her perseverance, and the fact that she walks out every morning to make ends meet. Unless she is in very severe pain, she comes to my home like clockwork. She refuses to leave her man. Her son needs a father and she needs a home. Twenty years of this….The dignity with which she endures moves me.

But today, something is different. In spite of everything, she has always emanated a quiet hope. Flashes of smiles and the rare laugh amidst the quietude that cloaks her. But today, she is mourning the loss of something.

I am concerned.

I ask her to sit. She obeys. I sit down next to her.

“Kaay jhale? (what has happened)” I ask gently, dreading the answer.

It takes her a moment to find her voice.

A whisper filled with shame and sadness. “Last night….my son..he…. he…. hit me. He has his exams …I turned off the television.”

We are both quiet for a few moments. I feel cold inside. I know what has broken within her. Hope. Dreams. Her reason for enduring. How many times had she stayed with him, saying to herself……this is for my family? Countless times…. I know.

She continues. “With a father like that, what can I hope for from my son?”

My sudden stillness alerts her. She looks sharply at me with sad eyes, and I know that she has guessed my horrific secret. It is my turn to avoid her gaze.

She gently places her hand on mine. “ May-dum.(madam)” She says. “Don’t worry. You people are educated …. ‘high-society’. Your child will be different.”

One battered wife to another, she knows. My long sleeved clothes, heavy make-up, smiling face not withstanding, she knows the truth amid my lies. Perhaps has known for a while. Our lives and lies, hopes and fears, terror and pain are too similar for her not to have known.

The world may not know it, but we are sisters under the skin. I burst into tears, relieved to have a shoulder to cry on.

http://www.womensweb.in/2014/06/june-muse-of-the-month-5/

 

IMAGE-Luigi Dimanti-freedigitalfotos.net

Advertisements

WEEK ZERO- Back To School- Learning Anew

Week Zero-A JOURNEY BEGINS WITH A THOUGHT

Application -a learning experience

My empty nest has been making me feel broody. As if my plate is not full enough, I have been looking for a college course that will take me back to the classroom, something that will give my neurons a zingggg….. after years of just tinkering with facta medicine or rather facta anaesthesiologica (is there such a word?)

By sattva,-freedigitalfotos.net

Image-Sattva-freeedigitalfotos.net

START OF MY JOURNEY

I have zeroed in on one close to my place of work. And, it is a three year law course.

Classes from Seven AM to ten thirty AM. This means that I could perhaps dash back and forth from my class to work. Sounds workable or is it?

Location-check

Timing-check

Enthusiasm-check(errr…)

“How are you gonna manage these “dashes”? And, what about your work? Are you planning to shut shop?” This from the family Nostradamus, my son.

Typical, I think, reading between the lines and knowing that he is worrying about his pocket money and whether/how a broke mom figures in his plans!!!!

“Son, never fear, I plan to filch your notes. (he is also a law student). And, maybe you can tutor me during your chutti (holidays).” I twist the knife. “ You know, get back for all the torture in your school years?”

He rolls his eyes, tutoring mom obviously not a priority for him.

AM I GOOD ENOUGH?

After many years, I have butterflies in my tummy for reasons academic. Suppose they refuse to give me admission. My twenty five (read ancient)year old marks are hardly going to make the cut in this generation of centpercent marks!!!!

I enter the college campus and suddenly feel this energy zapping around. I am so out of place, due to the fact that the average age here is half of mine.

Great, so far! I get the form and work my way through the list of documents they need.

By Stuart Miles-freedigitalfotos.net

Image-StuartMiles-freedigitalfotos.net

Oops, they need scanning and uploading and other stuff. For a university form, compulsory, mandatory and all that. Our home scanner and printer is down…Kaput…dead…irreparably so. Meanwhile, there is a family crisis and a week goes by without any progress.

The submission date is perilously close. I enlist the help of a sweet kid, C, my son’s friend, who helps me with the scanning. BUT, I am clear that I need to take this further on my own. Ekla Chalo Re!!!!So, I spend two hours filling the form……painstakingly peering through my glasses at a font clearly meant for (ahem!) younger eyes.

A GOOFUP AND THE RESULT

But I goof up. The photo is not uploaded propahly. Time is running out and so is my patience. So now I go in search of an expert- a cyber cafe. I locate one. A darkly lit seedy looking one at the back of a shop which doubles as travel agency. The back has cubicles, a ‘register’ for some barely checked check-in and an airconditioner that has seen better days and therefore retired. Even at nine in the morning there are surfers who are staring at the screen glassy eyed, longingly looking at the sign which says “no Porn!!!” perhaps hoping that staring at it long enough will make it disappear.

The young kid who mans this interesting place barely looks at me. I need his expertise. So I wait. He looks at my document. Logs on, goes to the site in a jiffy. Working some magical thingy that I can only admire. Then tinkers with the keys. Twenty minutes later…. He is done, yet not. His expertise fails against the Jhol that I have committed. Helpless, disgusted, irate are the adjectives that come to mind as I watch the expressions that rapidly flit across his face.

“Tumhara application hai kya?”(is it your application) I say yes.

ATTITUDE- MY DEFLATOR

He expels a loud breath. “Why did YOU attempt this? Nothing can be done. At least not by me.” Rude, loud, the other surfers shake out of their reverie and look at the ignorant interloper-ME

Cowed, I mumble a sorry and stumble out, almost in tears. So much for independence and neuronal zinging, I say to myself. Defeated

before I started!!!!

 

By David Castillo Dominici, freedigitalfotos.net

Image-David Castillio Dominici-freedigitalfotos.net

 

 

After some thought and mental nail-biting, I call up the university helpline. A perky female voice. Sympathetic. She listens. Then tells me what to do. The orders are clear. In a word-REAPPLY

Come morning, I find another cybercafé, anxious to avoid my young critic-cum-detractor. I slink in. This time, the scenario is different. The guy manning it is helpful and sympathetic. My printout is done and I am out in thirty minutes.

Feeling triumphant, I submit my application in time.

Ahhhh……I have already relearnt a lesson- an important one -the importance of not putting down someone. Sympathy at the right time and all that.

 

Next- Nail biting wait for the Merit list to be put up AND waiting in the admission queue.

 

The other woman or ….the other woman????- A review of Amhi Sau Kumud Prabhakar Apte

http://www.mumbaitheatreguide.com/dramas/reviews/14-amhi-sau-kumud-prabhakar-apte-marathi-play-review.asp

 

A play with strong female characters, a healthy dose of good acting,, a dash of mystery and a pinch of melodrama…. a la` Ekta Kapoor and her soaps….makes a recipe  for a good watch!!!!

A short story- about a child’ dilemma solved as an adult- Titled : There Is None More Blind

http://www.womensweb.in/2014/03/march-muse-of-the-month-3/

When someone you love dearly is faced with the same dilemma that you faced as child, to what lengths can one go to protect a loved one?

Here’s the story-

The hearse bearing the corpse of the deceased man is en route to his residence. The mourners have no corpse to wail over, yet. Instead, they gather in the garden and talk; the grave voices and hushed tones belied by underlying eagerness. Recent snippets, juicy gossip and long forgotten bits of information are rehashed.

They are oblivious to the murderer, who with a posture of grief and the mourner’s uniform of white clothes and dark glasses blends in. With a flash of humor, the murderer, a recent Harry Potter fan, compares the disguise to Harry’s invisibility cloak.

The first bunch of ‘mourners’ are discussing the accident. No one pays attention to the eavesdropping figure of the murderer.

“A two-wheeler accident? Why take that old two wheeler to the temple, when he had the cars?”

“Arrey yaar! An old habit….some relic of his hand-to mouth days, the same vehicle and same temple. A superstition of his, this weekly visit.”

“But the heavy vehicles on that steep road and that rickety moped; asking for trouble, you know!!!”

The murderer walks away, thinking, “So far, so good. As yet, no news of the brakes being tampered with. Should hopefully stay that way. That crash course in the workings of two-wheelers was worth it.”

One of the groups is all women; so it is domestic gossip.

“According to my husband, the son is a no-good.”

“With a dominating father, what else can happen?”

“But that daughter-in-law is smart and ambitious, not letting anything stand in her way. She will take over the business empire, mark my words.”

“Has anyone seen that nerdy daughter? She is back after her divorce, I heard.”

“Wonder what she looks like? No friends or anything, she always had her nose in her books.”

“Not seen here in the last five years; since her marriage, in fact. Last month, she just comes back, bag and baggage, from that God-forsaken town where she was staying.”

“Hmm… I heard that her husband alleged non-consummation or something like that.”

“Ya…So, no children, either.” Someone cruelly giggles.

“Wonder what really happened. A mystery….”

The voices trail away as the murderer walks away, thinking, “Mystery? Her father had been sexually abusing his daughter since she was four. Can the daughter ever have a normal marriage? ”

Wandering through the rooms of the mansion, the murderer watches the dead man’s daughter-in-law. Her innermost ambition realised prematurely, she has happily assumed the mantle of matriarch. ‘Well predicted, ladies’, the murderer thinks!! ‘The compromises that she has made for this ambition will be a secret forever.’

The murderer walks towards the granddaughter’s room and quietly enters. A room littered with too many toys and pretty, costly things; designed to hide lack of concern, and excess of pain.

Like the room of the dead man’s daughter, twenty years ago.

Two similar fates, twenty years apart. The daughter, perhaps his first victim and the granddaughter, certainly, his last. Both related by blood to a ruthless man, who preyed upon them.

Ignored by the rest of the family, who turned a blind eye to the facts, for their own reasons; greed, ambition, fear of the man or just apathy?

There is none more blind than those who do not wish to see!

The murderer feels a surge of anger and grief. Anger for a terrible injustice. Grief for a life ruined.

No one had intervened when the man had abused his own daughter all those years ago.

No.

As history seemed determined to repeat itself, however, the murderer has intervened.

The man’s death has freed his granddaughter from the shadow of his predation. Unfettered by dark memories, the world would be her oyster.

The little girl looks up at the murderer and asks,“Is he really gone forever, Atyaa (aunty)?”

“Yes!”

The murderer continues in a whisper, almost inaudibly, “I will have to squeeze out a few tears. I am his daughter, after all. It is the last act that I will have to put on for him.”

The dead man’s daughter gently touches her niece’s hair. A gesture of protection; one of the few times in many years that she has willingly touched another person.

As she does so, she notices the stain of vehicle grease from brake-tampering, on her fingers. Lady Macbeth with a twist, she thinks. She does not wash her hands, preferring to treat them like a badge of triumph. Lifting her fingers to her face, she takes a deep breath and smells their greasy odour. Ah, even the perfumes of Arabia could not have smelled sweeter.

Today, the world holds infinite possibilities. Carpe` diem.

Aloud, she says, “I could read a Harry Potter book to you, while we wait. Today, I will truly relish the vanquishing of old enemies.”

 

 

INDRA NOOYI And Her MOTHER- Some Comments

When Pepsico President Indra Nooyi comments on something, the whole world, esp women sit up and listen, then discuss it animatedly. The comments were dissected and pored over, criticized and agonized over, the import of her meaning was shredded….in every possible portal-from the print to news media , forums for women and every other possible place.

This is my little bit of contribution to the conversation.

http://www.womensweb.in/2014/07/of-a-million-indra-nooyis-and-their-mothers/